Junk Food and Children

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“If you finish your assignment, I’ll reward you with a chocolate.” “If you get a 90 percent or higher, we’ll go out for pizza.” “Right now, eat those fruits.” “Drink that milk and we’ll go to the park,” says the narrator. Do any of these sounds similar to you? You may have gone through this as a youngster or as a parent dealing with your children. These are some of the impromptu family discussions that have been going on for years. Read about junk food

Food has come to be associated with incentives, manipulation, drama, and even mental torment. This type of incentive or manipulation is always centered on junk food. We tend to entice the child with pizzas, burgers, and chocolates rather than an apple or paratha to complete tasks. Right?

To some extent, parents are responsible for depriving their children of the pure joy of eating. Obesity in children is becoming a major issue. Obesity has been exacerbated by the easy availability of food (apps that deliver food to your door, fast food places in every nook and cranny), a lack of physical activity in children (which intensified during the pandemic), and children restricted to screens.

The Addiction to Junk Food

Junk food is heavy in salt, sugar, fat, calories, and nutrients while being deficient in nutrition. Junk has arrived at our doorstep thanks to improved marketing methods, better and faster shipping, and media influence.

Kids and adults alike become addicted to junk food because of its ease, flavour, and palatability. Children assume that food advertised on television is nutritious. They are becoming increasingly alienated from their own culture, cuisine, and traditions.

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Factors Affecting Children’s Eating Habits : Junk food

Gender, age, temperament, early feeding style, flavour experience, and experiential learning are all factors to consider.

Food – The energy density, colour, palatability, and flavour of various foods are all factors to consider.

Parental income, media impact, and socialising trends are all factors that determine community/socioeconomic status.

Parents/Family – Nutritional knowledge, parenting style, parental control over food choices, frequency of shared mealtimes, and meal arrangement are all important factors to consider

Children’s eating habits should be encouraged through a variety of methods.

Junk food is here to stay. Nevertheless, there is a lot that can be done.

  • Lead by example– Kids learn by observation. A family system that revolves around healthy eating will promote good food choices. Providing good food experiences is vital to a child’s upbringing.
  • Food as a reward – If you reward good behavior with junk food it sets a very wrong precedent. The child starts associating junk with good or acceptable behavior.
  • Covert control– Do not bring home junk deliberately. Remember, out of sight is out of mind. Explore healthy snacking options.
  • Promoting self-regulation– Let the child get in touch with their hunger and satiety cues. Do not decide portions or force-feed.
  • Lifestyle changes– Encourage physical activity, especially outdoors. This will automatically reduce their screen time and promote adequate and quality sleep.
  • Authoritative parenting style –Studies have shown how this is associated with a lower risk of childhood obesity. However, there is a thin line between authoritative parenting and control. Excessive control over food choices disregards the child’s independence.

On the contrary, giving in to the child’s unhealthy food requests overrides a child’s ability to eat as per hunger and satiety cues, a catch-22 situation.

  • Family meals – These are important in a child’s life as they set the ground for imposing rules and expectations.

The creation of a non-obesogenic child-rearing environment starts from home. Knowledge of nutrition and fitness has, thus, become of paramount importance to both parents and kids. The key lies in striking the right balance between healthy eating and indulgence.

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